News from the snow
Squaw Valley USA USA
One of North America and the world's major resorts, Squaw Valley 's history as a ski resort dates back to the late 1940's when the resort's first chairlift was installed. A little over a decade later the resort's meteoric rise saw it hosting the 1960 Winter Olympics. With more than 30 lifts, including North America's first Funitel, serving 4000 skiable acres Squaw is definitely a world class resort. The ski-in and ski-out lodging property, the Resort at Squaw Creek, opened in the early 1990s. Still family owned, Squaw is sensibly following the trend in North America's top resorts and has extended its existing slopeside lodging to create a state-of-the-art $250 million resort village, in partnership with Intrawest who run a dozen major North American resorts. It incorporates over 80 shops and restaurants as well as more than 700 condos. The resort's move into the 21st century has been boosted by the $20 million investment in a new Funitel. This is a combined gondola-funicular system with 46, 28 person cabins capable of transporting 3000 skiers per hour in winds which had, on occasion, caused the resort to suspend operations of older lifts on the higher slopes. The ascent time has also been cut from 12 to 8 minutes. The resort's achievement in hosting the 1960s Olympics is still a topic of conversation more than forty years on. It wasn't just that the area succeeded in staging what was then the world's largest games, with a thousand competitors from 34 nations, a little over a decade after Squaw's inception, but that the resort actually won the bidding five years earlier, in 1955, when it was virtually unheard of outside California. The first Games to be nationally televised and to house the athletes in their own Olympic village, the opening and closing ceremonies were orchestrated by Walt Disney and involved over 5,000 participants and the use of 1,285 musical instruments. Squaw Valley's history does go back a little further than the start of the ski industry in the area of course. The Washoe Native Americans were the original inhabitants, then the town of Claraville grew up in the 1860s where today the entrance to Squaw Valley stands. The valley's popularity then was the result of silver being discovered in the area. The town's population peaked at 1000 residents and, whilst ranchers, shepherds, miners and trappers came and went, it wasn't until the Squaw Valley Development Corporation was established in 1948 that the area really took off.
The site of the 1960 Winter Olympics and internationally recognised world-class ski resort. Squaw Valley has a huge number of chair lifts serving one of North america's largest ski areas. There's a ski-in resort at Squaw Creek opened in the early 1990s followed by a new pedestrian village.
For better skiers, the KT- 22 Peak, accessed by the KT-22/Olympic Lady Express Lift, is legendary. From the top of KT22 the entire spine of the snow covered Sierra Nevada is strung out in bold view for the eye to see. It was the late Wayne Poulsen who whimsically christened the peak by counting how many kick-turns it took his wife Sandy to get down its West Face! Today, the X generation laughs at the thought of this, but don't realize that up until the 60s you didn't really ski the 75 Chute, you traversed it, all except Swiss skier Squaw Valley instructor Joel Auckenthaller.
Some guests visiting Squaw's slopes wouldn't have a clue that a restaurant aptly named "The Cornice" used to sit near KT's present top terminal, or that there was actually a family of eagles that roosted in the "Eagle's Nest. West Face, renamed "Moseley's" in February 1998 in honour of Squaw Valley Freestyle Team member and Nagano Gold Medallist Jonny Moseley, is the flagship of KT's double diamond terrain. Bumps on the
steep slope stay cold, soft, and gullied into massive mounds storm-to-storm. Negotiating down its rippled compressions is like facing hand-to-hand combat. But KT-22 also has plenty of terrain to offer the intermediate-level enthusiast. From the top, head west along the Saddle Traverse and drop into the long lovely gradients of the Saddle. Keep skier's right for its steeps and a fun finish, or cruise left onto the well-groomed paths and the Mountain Run.
Private lessons are also offered upon availability in both ski and snowboard instruction. Equipment rental is available on site for children enrolled in a program.
Gordon Biersch's offerings include a full lunch menu including their famous garlic fries and a fine micro brew whilst Dave's Deli has sandwiches, snacks, and meals to take with you, it's the home of the Rad Muffin. The Dining Court has burgers and tacos and in Squaw Valley Mall Le Chamois serves pizza, sandwiches, and much more.
Other places for daytime food include the Sundeck Cafe, Mother Barclay's Café and, in the cable car building, the Headwall Cafe. High Camp houses Alexander's Restaurant, the Terrace Café serves a lunch buffet and the Poolside Café has a salad bar. Finally the Bar North offers oyster shooters. In the Gold Coast Complex there's a huge selection of food including the Ground Floor BBQ and the Oasis level food court.
The snowboard school offers Sunday sessions including freeriding, terrain park and halfpipe instruction. New last season, Squaw Valley added a Park Bully and a Super Pipe Dragon to its fleet of grooming equipment. This now allows the resort to expand the terrain park and build a Super Park - including table top jumps, a quarter pipe, rail slides, spines, volcanoes and fun boxes.